The City of Fennville has contemplated a renovation of the Downtown District for a number of years. The current layout functions more as an interstate, moving traffic quickly past town, and is not conducive to a downtown business district. Landscaping and other amenities at a pedestrian scale are for the most part non-existent. The City’s Downtown Development Authority has secured $530,000 in funds from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for the project and has applied for an additional $350,000 from the Michigan Department of Transportation. The City wishes to reconstruct the roadway and sidewalks to add a more pedestrian feel by adding traffic calming measures and reducing overall road crossing lengths at intersections to calm and slow the speed of traffic and increase safety. The roadway would include two traffic lanes, and parallel parking. Where feasible, the front entrances to the existing buildings will be made ADA compliant. The proposed layout will provide additional space for the appurtenances that will reduce the scale of the street, add detail at a pedestrian level, and promote a healthy, pedestrian and business friendly atmosphere.
The proposed enhancements will serve to provide a non-motorized link through the downtown area while calming vehicular traffic and creating a “downtown” sense of place for the local businesses and patrons. Motorist will be enticed to pullover, park and visit the downtown retailers and restaurants. This will enhance the economic viability of the downtown and make Fennville a destination for tourists rather than a drive by on the way somewhere else. The addition of the traffic calming measures, non-motorized transportation facilities, landscaping, lighting and other amenities will make the motorist aware of the downtown environment and the presence of pedestrians and cyclists. Fennville is on the Michigan Heritage Route as well as the gateway to the Allegan Forrest. The addition of these amenities will add to the aesthetics of this community and the addition of bicycle facilities will provide a better link to other recreational facilities.
The Fennville Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is looking to develop a vacant parcel of land that they own on the corner of M-89 and Maple Street. Known as the City Center Redevelopment Project, the southern portion of this property will house a new dentist office and the northern half is intended to include two mixed-use buildings and a small city park. The DDA is currently seeking funding from the Rural Development Department of the United States Department of Agriculture to start the first phase of paving parking lots and alley ways on this parcel.